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Study reveals surprising trends in non-diabetic adults’ use of artificial sweeteners in Brazil

With the known disadvantages of easy sugar consumption amongst individuals with diabetes mellitus, non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) initially appeared to offer an alternate that will allow such groups to benefit from the experience of sweetness without putting their metabolic health in danger.

Study: Examining the Usage Patterns of Non-Nutritive Sweeteners amongst Non-Diabetic Individuals: Insights from the Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil). Image Credit: Tatjana Baibakova/Shutterstock.com

The appearance of NNS has seen a big proportion of non-diabetics jump on the bandwagon. A brand new study published in Nutrients examines the extent of NNS use amongst non-diabetic Brazilian adults.


NNS are also called dietary sweeteners and supply a sugar-free alternative when sweetness must be added to food. They comprise each natural and artificial sweeteners and were initially considered medicines. In Brazil, they were classified as drugs registered under the Ministry of Health.

At present, they’re registered as dietary foods and can be found in a large number of products, from beverages and foods to supplements and hygiene products. This has made them widely available to the population.

Nevertheless, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently beneficial that NNSs not be used to cut back weight, heart problems, or other metabolic disease risks.

This has put the onus on health authorities to discover NNS users and reduce their consumption. The present study aimed, subsequently, to estimate the regular usage rate of NNS among the many non-diabetic adult population in Brazil.

The study drew data from the Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil). This is a component of a multicenter cohort comprising over 15,000 public servants between the ages of 35 and 74 years. These are thus highly educated and financially well-off individuals, belonging to 6 institutes for higher education and research in Brazil.

There have been over 9,000 individuals within the study, none of whom were diabetic at baseline. The query asked was whether NNS was used at the very least once a day. The information got here from 2008-2010.

What did the study show?

About 55% of the participants were white, with 40% being between 45 and 54 years of age. Just over half the sample were females, of whom ~31% used NNS. 4 out of ten participants were chubby, as classified by the body mass index (BMI).

Two-thirds of those with a high BMI didn’t have a member of the family with diabetes, and the identical proportion had normal blood pressure. As expected, over 60% were highly educated, with 40% earning greater than twice the minimum wage.

About eight in ten participants drank alcohol, while about 40% smoked. Almost 80% were sedentary.

The researchers found that over 1 / 4 of the sample consumed NNS recurrently, that’s, once a day or more. The danger aspects for increased odds of standard NNS usage included increasing age, higher income, higher education levels, and BMI.

Women were twice as prone to use NNS recurrently in comparison with men. Those with the next educational level were 80% more prone to use NNS recurrently in comparison with those with an elementary education. The identical increased odds applied to those with the next income (two times the minimum wage vs up to at least one times the minimum wage).

White participants were 50% more prone to use these foods in comparison with black participants. Similarly, there was a 40% increase in use amongst those within the age group of 65-74 years. Those that drank or had hypertension, in addition to those with a family history of hypertension, showed a 20% higher likelihood of standard NNS use.

The best increase in risk got here with BMI variation, nevertheless. Amongst obese individuals, the chances of use were seven-fold that observed among the many normal-weight category.

These findings corroborate earlier studies showing that a large proportion of the non-diabetic population consumes NNS recurrently, amounting to 37% in France and 20% in an earlier Brazilian study.

In France, the chances were higher amongst younger and more chubby individuals in addition to those that were weight-reduction plan to drop a few pounds. In contrast, a study in Portugal showed that higher education, in addition to the next BMI, posed a risk for normal NNS use.

Beverages containing NNS, mostly artificial sweeteners, were consumed as much as once a day by almost one in 4 women in an American cohort. A multiethnic study including African-American, Caucasian, Hispanic, and Chinese-American people between 45 and 84 years old showed that just about one in seven had a number of weight-reduction plan sodas. Nevertheless, the very best use was amongst white and Hispanic participants.

In the present study, the high usage rate of NNS might be as a consequence of its consumption inside coffee, a beverage in widespread use in Brazil, the second-highest coffee consumer on the earth. On this study, participants drank a mean of 150 mL per day of coffee, with a fourth using artificial sweeteners of their coffee.

Women could also be more vulnerable to use NNS to enhance their body image and maintain good health. Advertisers may exploit this tendency to advertise NNS for weight reduction and general health improvement.

The upper rate of use amongst those with a family history of diabetes could also be as a consequence of either the exposure to NNS within the households of individuals with diabetes or, conversely, the alternative to make use of these products fairly than sugar to avert or reduce the longer term risk of diabetes.

What are the implications?

The concept that consuming products with NNSs is a healthy practice is precisely the main target of selling actions for these products.” Certain groups seem like way more prone to use NNS recurrently than others, especially those with higher education and income levels, who seem to decide on these products for health-related or body image-related reasons.

The vast majority of NNS purchases and consumption is amongst white people, who usually tend to be wealthier and among the many upper/upper-middle classes. The general prevalence of use of those dietary substitutes is comparatively high.

The proliferation of products containing NSSs, notably those described as highly processed, raises concerns in regards to the quality of a nation’s weight-reduction plan.

Moreira et al. 2023

This mandates the event of health policies in Brazil and other countries faced with similar problems with increased NNS consumption. These should promote clear food labeling and accurate education about these foods, targeting potential consumers and the general public at large, consistent with the WHO’s warning.

The study could also boost collaborative initiatives focused on NNS-free, low-sugar diets to advertise health in various cultural and dietary settings. 

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